Are you disappearing?

I often talk and write about how wives were created to be their husband’s helper, and while that’s true, I feel it’s necessary to make a clarification.  Yes, a wife should help her husband by showing him respect, allowing him to lead the family, and assisting him as he seeks to follow God’s promptings in his life.  However, that doesn’t mean a wife should give up her own individual identity in the process.

Submitting to your husband’s leadership does not mean that you become a doormat which has no value.  Helping your husband does not mean you sacrifice doing the things that bring you great joy.  Respecting your husband doesn’t mean he’s always right and you’re always wrong.  If you go too far in that direction, you will become an empty shell.  It’s as if your heart doesn’t matter.   God doesn’t intend that for you.  In fact, He says in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”

Spend some time in prayer with God and ask Him to reveal if there are any areas of your life where you have lost your true identity.  Have you stopped doing some things that bring you fully alive?  Is it time to sit down with your husband and talk about how you can both live in a way that brings joy and fulfillment?  Don’t allow yourself to disappear in the relationship.

Drawing out the best in husband

Our words are SO powerful!  If you frequently tell your husband how he’s falling short, he will likely close down emotionally and search for an escape door.  He may turn to alcohol, porn, excessive recreational pursuits, or even other women.

However, if you choose to tell him about the good things you see in him, he will begin to grow in confidence.  I believe this is why God instructs wives in Ephesians 5:33, “the wife must respect her husband“.  Your respect and admiration mean everything to your man.  If you intentionally take note of his talents as well as the effort he puts forth, and then tell him you are proud of him, his feelings of inadequacy will fall away.  He will start believing he can be successful in what he tries.  He will gain courage to try tackling even bigger things.

If you notice his positive character qualities (and every man has at least one!), and tell him how much you respect him for those qualities, he will be built up on the inside.  He will likely begin believing that he can become a man who makes a difference in his family and for God.  A wife’s words of respect and encouragement can propel her husband forward to be an even greater man than he would ever have been without her!

Course-correcting your relationships

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you can expect that God is constantly transforming you to be more like his son Jesus.  His Holy Spirit is gently but consistently convicting us of both known sins and subtle sin patterns in our lives, and he’s urging us to turn from those patterns. He’s urging us to choose to be more Christ-like.  2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory    For me, he’s been slowly and gently convicting me and transforming me in the area of subtle self-focus.  And I know I’m not alone in this pattern!! 

We ALL tend to be subtly self-centered in our relationships.  We want and expect others to make us happy, do things our way, commend our wonderful deeds, make us feel valuable, always treat us fairly, make us feel loved, and on and on.   However, as we become more mature Christ-followers, God is urging us to be Christ-like in our relationships.  He’s asking us to do what’s best for others instead of focusing on how others should treat us better!  Take a moment to really absorb what God is saying to us in Philippians 2:3-7  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…

What does this look like in your relationships?  How is God asking you to course-correct?  It might mean actually confronting a loved one caught in sin and discontinuing a conflict-avoider pattern where you’ve made it easy for that person to stay stuck in a destructive sin.  It may mean choosing to reflect Christ around your rude boss by being kind and humble no matter how he treats you.  It may mean using a respectful tone with your husband even when he has disappointed you.

Reflecting Christ in every relationship is challenging for sure, but the eternal rewards are worth it, AND, you may very well find when you get to heaven one day that your Christ-like interactions with others impacted people so much that they became true followers of Jesus as well!

** or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO BELOW

Becoming a strong, unshakeable woman!

Do you wish you could be a more courageous woman, a more secure woman, a more confident woman, and a woman who is able to stand strong under pressure or hardship?  I think I’ve found the answer.  We must go beyond just accepting Christ as our Savior, and truly decide to make Christ our Lord!

When I think about the ladies I know who are strong, confident and unshakeable Christian women, they all have something in common.  They have made the courageous decision to surrender their lives to Jesus and they’ve truly committed to following him as the leader and master of their lives.  This is, in fact, what the Bible calls us to do in Romans 10:9…If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  It’s important to note that this Bible verse tells us to declare Jesus as “Lord”, which means “master” in the original Greek.

Have you truly made Jesus your master?  Maybe that’s the missing piece in your life.  I can tell you from personal experience that once you truly make a heart decision to make Jesus your Lord and master, all His promises to love you, comfort you, and counsel you start to come alive in your spirit.  You begin to realize that you can trust his leadership 100%.  Once that happens, you’ll find yourself strong, confident and unshakeable!

Husbands want you to notice this!

We all know women are pretty obsessed with their appearance, but men care about how they appear as well.  Specifically, they want to appear strong.  Your guy probably isn’t going to tell you this, but most husbands want you to appreciate their strength.  They want you to notice and be in awe of their muscles!

It’s in a man’s DNA to want to exude physical strength.  When God first created man, the Bible says in Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”   Those instructions to cultivate the garden involve strength and power.  So, affirm your husband’s strength.  The next time he lifts something heavy, notice his strength and let him know it!  If you actually see a bulging bicep, treat it like eye-candy and tell him his biceps are sexy.  I bet you’ll see your husband’s eyes light up a little bit, and more importantly, I believe you’ll also see him grow in confidence.  He wants to be your hero.  He needs to be your hero.

Missing that “in-love” feeling?

Have you lost that “in love” feeling with your husband?  Are you feeling like there should be more in your relationship?  There could be some major problems in your marriage that need to be addressed.  However, it could be that you’ve fallen prey to the notion that your relationship with your husband should resemble the thrill of new romance portrayed in chick flicks and romance novels.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love watching a good romantic movie like The Proposal with Sandra Bullock.  I have enjoyed reading Christian romance novels.  However…you and I have to be so careful that we don’t start subconsciously thinking our marriages should have that constant thrill of new romance.  That’s unrealistic.  There is no way we’re going to be “twitterpated” (like Thumper in the Bambi movie) all the time!  Also, our husbands couldn’t possibly be as breathtaking as the men portrayed in the romantic comedies or as perfect as the men in the Christian romance novels!  It’s all a beautiful delusion from the enemy who wants to destroy your marriage.   I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 11:14 “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light

And here’s one more caution.  Did you realize that many romantic comedies actually promote a woman leaving the man she’s with to find the “true soul mate” awaiting her?  Yikes!  We get so involved with the romance story that we don’t even notice this is the case!  Think of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind.  She pines away for the man who’s already married to someone else.  In Sleepless In Seattle, Meg Ryan’s character is engaged but feels there must be someone better out there.  The list goes on and on.  So, let’s be careful to avoid unrealistic expectations of our men and our marriages.

Finding joy despite hardship

I know this might sound too simple.  I know you could be rolling your eyes as you read this. But give this a chance.  A huge key to regaining some of your joy during challenges or after a heartbreaking event is…to focus on the things for which you can be thankful.

All of us tend to focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have.  By doing so, we become bitter, jealous, and depressed women.  Now if you actually enjoy being bitter and depressed, you just go right on concentrating on what’s wrong in your life.  However, there is a better way to live.  God recommends it in the Bible.  It’s called being thankful for what you do have.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances“.  This means disciplining your mind to focus on what is good and right and beautiful. God puts it this way in Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Do you have shelter and plenty of food to eat each day?  Wow! You’re in the top 10% of the entire world!  Do you have someone in your life (husband, mother, friend, child) who loves you?  Wonderful!  Do your legs and hands work?  Can you see, hear, and taste?  Thank God for the health that not everyone enjoys.  Has God made himself known to you and drawn your heart to him?  Awesome!  That means he thinks you’re special and he decided before the beginning of the world to select you to adopt as his child!

Yes, there is a time to grieve losses in our lives.  But we can’t stay camped out there!  Let’s make a concerted effort to focus our minds on being thankful.  Little by little, you may find your joy returning, even during hard times.

** or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO BELOW

Improve marriage by fixing this

Have you and your husband been butting heads lately?  Can you sense resentment against him growing in your heart?  Does he seem frustrated with you?  Well, the good news is that you’re not alone.  This is pretty common in marriage.  The bad news is that if you don’t do something about this, it will likely ruin your marriage!

As my husband and I mentored couples over man years, we found a little tool to be really helpful.  We asked the husband and wife to sit down over a series of “dates” and discuss each other’s expectations in all sorts of areas; everything from the balance of responsibilities for chores to what Christmas celebrations should be like.   We all hold subconscious expectations in these areas, but we rarely intentionally reveal those expectations to our spouse.  Then we get frustrated and annoyed that they don’t meet our undisclosed expectations!

How about if you bless your spouse by initiating a series of dates to honestly discuss expectations.  Proverbs 24:26 says “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips”.   By each of you being honest and open about your desires and hopes, you will grow more intimate and truly begin to understand each other.  Visit the “free resources” tab on our website (www.squadronofsisters.com) to print out a list of topics for your husband and you to discuss.

Recognizing codependency

Can a Christian woman be too helpful?  Can she be too nice?  I believe the answer is yes.  When we are so “nice” that we enable our husband or adult children to act irresponsibly or to stay immature, we are being too nice.  And many of us fit this description.  We are too helpful.  We are codependent.  We train our loved ones to be dependent on us, instead of God.  We train them to rely on us to do things for them that they should really do themselves as responsible adults.  Often, we also train them to expect us to bail them out of the natural consequences of their foolish or sinful decisions. 

Why are many women codependent?  We become codependent when we subconsciously depend on others to meet a deep emotional need of our own, such as feeling loved, secure, or important.  Instead of looking to the Lord for love, security and significance, we exhaust ourselves trying to get people to meet those needs. Then, because we pin all our hopes on these people, we MUST cater to them in order to keep them in the relationship with us.  We fear that our “source” of love and security will leave us or withdraw their love if we don’t cater to them.  We start walking on eggshells.  We bend over backwards to keep them happy because we fear losing them.  However, the Bible says in Proverbs 29:25  “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be loving and kind.  Of course, we should.  However, we go too far when our “kindness” enables immature and irresponsible and even sinful behavior in others.  We go too far when we try to spare our loved ones from consequences and when we carry their responsibilities. We go too far when we become neurotic people-pleasers in the relationship just so the other person is more likely to make us feel better about ourselves!    

Here are 2 questions you can ask yourself today:

1) Are my actions preventing my husband or children from becoming mature and responsible?

2) Am I expecting my husband or child to meet my deepest emotional needs or am I seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord to meet those needs?

Finding true comfort during distress

All wives inevitably hit a rough patch or two in their marriage.  In fact, there will likely be moments when you think “Why did I even marry this man?!”  He may break a little piece of your heart when he forgets your anniversary, or is overly harsh with the kids, or develops a habit of satisfying himself while viewing pornography instead of making love to you.  At these moments, you need comfort for your broken heart.

It’s our tendency to reach for something easy and tangible as a source of comfort.  You might try to find some joy in buying lots of new clothes. YouI might turn to excessive food.  But neither one of those choices truly comforts us.  They actually lead to additional grief in the long run!  Instead, we need to train ourselves to run to God at those heart-breaking moments.  He is waiting with open arms.  Plus, Jesus knows what it feels like to suffer grief, betrayal, and a broken heart.

I love these two verses of comfort.  Psalm 103:2-4 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”.  And Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.  Meditate on those 2 verses and ask God to come close to you.  He will, and I believe you will experience the warmth of his love! 

One additional tip:  I’ve found it especially helpful to find a quiet place of solitude (no cell phone, no noise!) where I can just sit with the Lord in stillness for 5 or 10 minutes, letting his peace and comfort wash over me.